To the editor:
I respectfully disagree with the conclusion the editorial board came to in a recent editorial titled “The Jury’s In.” Although I agree that the holding President Stenger personally and solely responsible for the SUNY2020 plan is misguided, he has been an outspoken advocate of the plan since he began his tenure and has taken it upon himself to defend the plan in response to every and all criticism.
Regarding the Clark Fellowships: As we all know, this fellowship was designed to encourage departments to accept and fund graduate students from historically oppressed groups. I find it disturbing, but telling of the administration’s position, that despite the rising costs of living and education that the program’s funding hasn’t been altered in, to quote the article under scrutiny, “for decades.” At best this can be seen as neglecting the responsibility BU has to social justice. I for one would like to see President Stenger put as much weight behind increasing funding for this program and others like it — EOP comes to mind — as he has been behind obtaining funds for projects like the incubator set to be installed Downtown. The president can hold all the forums on racism and diversity he wishes, but money does the real talking.
Regarding the Tuition Assistance Program: According to the document titled “NY SUNY2020 Grant Application,” dated April 25, 2012, “the TAP portion of the student support funds will be to ensure that all TAP-eligible students are not impacted by the proposed tuition increases throughout the plan.” I take this to mean that students who receive TAP funding will not see their tuition increased due to the funding requirements of the SUNY2020’s proposed tuition increases. Indeed, those tuition increases will be used to make sure this does not happen. However, the numbers do not add up. According to the same document “29 percent come from families with adjusted gross incomes of less than $30,000,” or about 3,500 BU students. All of these students are eligible for sizable TAP awards, along with many additional students. The funding projections for TAP put the level at $700,000 for the first year of the plan, $900,000 the next, and $900,000, $1.1 million, and $1.2 million in the years to follow. Tuition is set to increase $300 for in-state students relative to year before the plan begins during each year of the five year plan. This means that the first year the plan is put in place the TAP funding will only be able to cover the tuition increase for 2,333 students. In the following years those funds will be able to cover tuition increases for 1,500, 1,222, 916, and 800 students respectively. It is clear that with these funding levels TAP-eligible students will have to pay more due to the implementation of SUNY2020.
I should also point out that since academic year 2010-11, TAP has in fact been cut statewide by over $75 million by reducing the TAP per student $125 a year. At the same time, the fees at Binghamton are set to go up by $125 a year. For TAP students this an effective increase in the cost of education to the tune of $1,000 over four years. While we should all be distressed by the burden TAP cuts and the SUNY2020 plan’s miserly allocations for TAP, we should be equally concerned with administration’s lack of forthcomingness on this matter.
Andrew J Pragacz